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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Daily Drift


(via motherearthfathersky)
Homeland Security

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Today in History

1381   The Peasant's Revolt, led by Wat Tyler, climaxes when rebels plunder and burn the Tower of London and kill the Archbishop of Canterbury.  
1642   Massachusetts passes the first compulsory education law in the colonies.
1645   Oliver Cromwell's army routs the king's army at Naseby.  
1775   The U.S. Army is founded when the Continental Congress authorizes the muster of troops.  
1777   The Continental Congress authorizes the "stars and stripes" flag for the new United States.
1789   Captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty arrives in Timor in a small boat. He had been forced to leave his ship when his crew mutinied.
1846   A group of settlers declare California to be a republic.  
1864   At the Battle of Pine Mountain, Georgia, Confederate General Leonidas Polk is killed by a Union shell.  
1893   The city of Philadelphia observes the first Flag Day.  
1907   Women in Norway win the right to vote.  
1919   John William Alcot and Arthur Witten Brown take off from St. John's, Newfoundland, for Clifden, Ireland, on the first nonstop transatlantic flight.  
1922   President Warren G. Harding becomes the first president to speak on the radio.  
1927   Nicaraguan President Porfirio Diaz signs a treaty with the U.S. allowing American intervention in his country.  
1932   Representative Edward Eslick dies on the floor of the House of Representatives while pleading for the passage of the bonus bill.  
1940   German forces occupy Paris.  
1942   The Supreme Court rules that requiring students to salute the American flag is unconstitutional.  
1944   Boeing B-29 bombers conduct their first raid against mainland Japan. 1945   Burma is liberated by the British.  
1949   The State of Vietnam is formed.  
1951   UNIVAC, the first computer built for commercial purposes, is demonstrated in Philadelphia by Dr. John W. Mauchly and J. Prosper Eckert, Jr.  
1954   Americans take part in the first nation-wide civil defense test against atomic attack.  
1965   A military triumvirate takes control in Saigon, South Vietnam.  
1982   Argentina surrenders to the United Kingdom ending the Falkland Islands War.
 1985   Gunmen hijack a passenger jet over the Middle East.  
1989   Congressman William Gray, an African American, is elected Democratic Whip of the House of Representatives.  
1995   Chechen rebels take 2,000 people hostage in a hospital in Russia.

Non Sequitur


In Alberta, toxic waste spill may be biggest of all recent disasters in North America

A leak in Northern Alberta involving at least 9.5 million liters of toxic waste from an oil and gas operation is the third major leak in a region where "residents are now questioning whether enough is being done to maintain aging energy infrastructure." I'm gonna go with no. The spill was first detected June 1, but only Wednesday did Houston, TX-based operator Apache Corporation release an estimate of the leak's size.

“Every plant and tree died” in the area touched by the spill, said James Ahnassay, chief of the Dene Tha First Nation, whose members run traplines in an area that has seen oil and gas development since the 1950s.

Did you know ...

That Mozilla, ACLU, Greenpeace and over 80 other organizations protest u.s. surveillance programs

That Denver is the mile-high city, and we do mean high

That the NY legislature introduces bill to reinstate lever voting machines

That bank lobbyists help draft financial laws

Reality is ...

Thursday, June 13

Whiny rural Colorado repugicans demand secession

From Daily Kos

Why do repugicans hate democracy?

    Weld County's bid to divorce Colorado and form its own state is a powerful rebuke of Front Range interests that no longer align with rural parts of the state, supporters of the idea say.

    "The people of rural Colorado are mad, and they have every right to be," said U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, a repugican from Yuma. "The governor and his Democrat colleagues in the statehouse have assaulted our way of life, and I don't blame these people one bit for feeling attacked and unrepresented by the leaders of our state."

    The plan to carve off the northeastern corner of the state - Weld, Morgan, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington, Yuma and Kit Carson counties - and form the state of North Colorado was hatched at a Colorado Counties Inc. conference earlier this week, Weld County spokeswoman Jennifer Finch said.

This scheme doesn't stand a chance, obviously. It just points to what happens when conservatives don't get their way-they stomp and pout and whine, and then they start looking for ways to subvert our democracy.

List the three presidents who harmed America the most

That was easy. 
Next question ...

The repugican Myth That Rape Rarely Causes Pregnancy Comes From Nazi Experiments

Rep. Trent Franks
I don’t understand why repugicans continue to offer up headlines like “repugican congressman: Rate of pregnancies from rape is ‘very low.’ ” It is terrible politics for them to focus the public’s attention on their justification for the fact that they don’t support an exception to abortion bans for rape victims. The view doesn’t have anything like majority support, and they come off as heartless, ignorant scolds. If I were an anti-abortion activist, I’d want to muzzle these people. But they are irrepressible. At a congressional hearing Wednesday, Rep. Trent Franks, a repugican from Arizona, argued against an exception for rape and incest victims from a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. He said, “Before, when my friends on the left side of the aisle here tried to make rape and incest the subject—because, you know, the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” He is of course following in the footsteps of former Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, who said that women can stave off pregnancy after a “legitimate rape.” (He apologized but that didn’t save him from losing his next election.)
These claims are false, of course, or as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists puts it, “medically inaccurate, offensive, and dangerous.” That is not all that’s wrong with the claims. They originate with Nazi experiments on women in concentration camps. Here’s what I wrote about this last November

“In the aftermath of Akin’s statement, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on a 1972 essay by an obstetrician named Fred Mecklenburg, who cited a Nazi experiment in which women were told they were on their way to die in the gas chambers—and then were allowed to live, so that doctors could check whether they would still ovulate. Since few did, Mecklenburg claimed that women exposed to the emotional trauma of rape wouldn’t be able to become pregnant, either. (He also argued that rapists are infertile because they masturbate a lot.) The essay was published in a book financed by A.U.L.”
A.U.L. is Americans United for Life, a pro-life advocacy group with increasing clout because of its success in drafting model state laws to restrict abortion. The line from the Nazis to Mecklenburg to Akin and Franks runs through Jack Wilke, a doctor who is the former head of the National Right to Life Committee. He said, "What is certainly one of the most important reasons why a rape victim rarely gets pregnant, and that's physical trauma." And he stuck with this when the Los Angeles Times called to ask him about Akin last year. When I asked A.U.L. head Charmaine Yoest about the claim that rape rarely results in pregnancy, she was smarter and called it “a distraction.” Abortion opponents sure do keep bringing it up, though.
Since repugicans are Nazis it falls to reason they'd use their own 'research' now wouldn't it!?

The truth be told

Thursday, June 13

Rick Perry Using “Nonprofit Corporation” Run By Governor’s Office to Create Slush Fund


It’s no secret that I believe for repugicans being a hypocrite is almost a required trait to be a member of the repugican cabal.
After all, these are the “small government fiscally conservative” individuals who seem to always want to expand government encroachment on the private lives of Americans, and haven’t had a president from their party balance the budget since the 1950′s.
So it was no surprise when I heard about Rick Perry using tax dollars to fund measures that seek to lure businesses to Texas.
Oh, but if you ask him he completely denies that any of the $5 million that’s been spent to lure businesses to Texas from “blue states” like Illinois, California and New York has come from tax dollars.
And we should believe him, right?  I mean, it’s not like he bragged about a balanced budget, while using 2009 stimulus funds to balance that budget—a 2009 stimulus that he publicly slammed and denounced.
Oh wait, that’s exactly what he did.
See, there’s an organization called TexasOne that collects “donations” from —well anyone—to fund Rick Perry’s trips so he can claim taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for these expenses.
Nothing quite like blatantly legalizing kickbacks from wealthy people, or big corporations, through the guise of “donations” to “build the Texas economy.”
Perry claims TexasOne is a nonprofit corporation—that just happens to be managed by the governor’s office.  The board is appointed by Perry and there’s absolutely no legislated system of checks and balances for oversight of the money that’s “donated.”
And then there’s the previously mentioned hypocrisy of Rick Perry.  While Perry claims no tax money has been used for his travels, the Houston Chronicle calculated that at least 45% of the $4.7 million collected over the last three years (or $2 million dollars) has been funded by local sales taxes.
Mr. “Small Government” Perry is using millions of taxpayer dollars to fund his extravagant trips, while bold-face lying about his use of these tax dollars.
And while he makes these hefty claims about “job creation,” what these trips essentially do is raid other states, attempting to bring jobs from their states to Texas.  Now, I know Perry isn’t the smartest guy around, but even he should understand you can’t “create” jobs that already existed.  Shifting 1,000 jobs from California to Texas doesn’t “create jobs,” it just moves them.
But none of this will matter.  The repugicans prove time and time again when they vote this guy into office that it doesn’t matter what he does, they’ll eat big spoon fulls of his bullcrap and do so with a smile.
Even if the thing he’s done is create his very own slush fund to get around state laws which prohibit corporations from directly giving him donations—a slush fund he operates and oversees.
While still using millions of dollars from taxpayers to foot the bill for the expenses his big corporate buddies didn’t cover.  It’s a scheme so corrupt, I’m willing to bet organized crime leaders wished they had come up with it.
Then again, Rick Perry might just be the biggest organized crime leader in the United States.

The repugicans love the hate

"Those who retreat into fantasy cannot be engaged in rational discussion, for fantasy is all that is left of their tattered self-esteem. When their myths are attacked as untrue it triggers not a discussion of facts and evidence but a ferocious emotional backlash." 
 Christ Hedges for Truthdig

Lawsuit Against Mississippi Prison Is the Stuff of Nightmares

From Mother Jones

In the solitary confinement unit of East Mississippi Correctional Facility, it's common for inmates to set some clothing or an old milk carton on fire to get an officer's attention when they are in desperate need of a doctor-or if, say, their cell has been flooded by a broken pipe. Otherwise, it might be days before anyone took notice, according to a class-action lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The fires sometimes got the guards' attention, but not always in the way the inmates were hoping: At least one inmate, the suit claims, was maced by a corrections officer through his feeding slot. EMCF is a private, for-profit prison that houses seriously mentally ill patients, and the ACLU's lawsuit reads like a catalog of horrors.

Wacky Laws Named After People

You've heard of Murphy's Law, no doubt. But how about Sturgeon's Law? How about Skitt's Law? No? Then you have to read this nifty article by Chris Higgins over at mental_floss about 11 wacky "laws" named after people. For example:


The law: "90% of everything is crap." (In some versions, "crap" is replaced with "crud.")
The story: Science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon wrote a defense of sci-fi in the March 1958 issue of the sci-fi magazine Venture. He wrote, in part (emphasis added):
I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other art forms.
Two trivia notes on this one. First, as you can see above, Sturgeon himself termed this "Sturgeon's Revelation," however, accidents of history (and the OED) turned it into Sturgeon's Law. There actually is a "Sturgeon's Law," and it is: "Nothing is always absolutely so." Second note — Sturgeon is the basis for Kurt Vonnegut's recurring character Kilgore Trout.


The law: "Any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself."
The story: Skitt's Law is just one of many internet-themed corollaries of Muphry's Law, which itself states: "If you write anything criticizing editing or proofreading, there will be a fault of some kind in what you have written." So horribly, horribly true. (And yes, "Muphry" is an intentional misspelling referencing Murphy's Law.) Apparently the law was first coined by G. Bryan Lord, referring to a Usenet user named Skitt.
Read the rest: Here.


Thursday, June 13

Complaint about smelly juror collapses murder trial

A murder trial has collapsed after a female juror complained that the man sitting next to her in the court smelled. A letter to the Old Bailey judge complained she could not concentrate. The trial into the death of 20-year-old Jamie Sanderson, who was stabbed in Oceana nightclub, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, was two days into a six week trial when Judge Wendy Joseph discharged the jury.
She said: “There is a problem. There is nothing that the poor man can do about it. I am not prepared to force him to sit in another part of the court room. Even if I were to find jurors to sit by him, it would not necessarily resolve the problem. At the end of the day they have all got to sit in the jury room together. We are two days and one hour into evidence and the prospect of many weeks ahead of us. These defendants are entitled to a trial by 12 jurors. Nobody really wants to go on with 11 jurors from a defense point of view.”

The juror in question was spoken to by the court matron about his cleanliness. While the jury were out of the court room, lawyers were told he had no health issues, regularly showered and washed his clothes. The judge considered moving him into the press box but said she felt this may ostracize him. Judge Joseph said: “He was pretty comfortable where he was in the jury box and did not wish to be put to one side. In light of that, it would be wrong of me to make him do that.

“He believes that the complaint has come from a number of jurors.” She also said it worried her that as the weather got warmer it could lead to more complaints. Prosecutor Crispin Aylett had called for the juror to be discharged and for the trial to continue but all four defense counsels disagreed. A new jury will now be sworn in ready to hear the case again from the beginning. Cases in the crown court cost an estimated £3,000 a day.

The NRA's Wet Dream

Why guns? To make men feel manly, to make women more attractive to men who like guns.

She tells us what it's really all about.

Lady wearing ski mask arrested for threatening children with chain saw

A Missouri woman is accused of trying to scare children by approaching them with a chain saw while wearing a ski mask.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department says Lynn Marie Herzog, 50, of Winfield, is charged with felony harassment in the Sunday incident.

Patricia Manker called the police after she saw Herzog yelling at her son and his friend and walking toward them with the mask and chain saw.

Sheriff's department spokesman Andy Binder said the chain saw was not running during the alleged incident. Herzog was jailed on $10,000 bond.

You can't patent (naturally occurring) genes

In an unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that companies can't patent genes, or parts of genes — at least, so long as that genetic material is identical to what occurs in nature. The lawsuit dealt specifically with Myriad Genetics, the company that isolated and has claimed a patent on BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 — genes associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. From a practical perspective, Myriad's hold on the genes has meant that tests for genetic cancer risk are strikingly expensive — Xeni paid more than $3000 for hers. It's also meant that, if you get a positive result, there's been nowhere you could go for a second opinion.That's a big deal. Mutations in the BRCA 1 and 2 genes mean an increased risk of cancer, but there's more than one kind of mutation that can happen. In fact, BRCA 1, alone, has hundreds of known mutations. Some increase your risk of cancer. But, even if you narrow it down to just those, they don't all increase the risk by the same amount. The health choices you make could be very different depending on whether you have an 80% risk of developing breast cancer by age 90 (the worst-case scenario for BRCA 1 mutations), or something much lower. That's the kind of situation where you might really like to have more than one lab run more than one kind of test.
This ruling opens the door for that, and the competition should (theoretically) also lower the cost.
It's worth noting that the ruling does not apply to synthetically created DNA, which, based on the Myriad context, seems to apply to lab-created genes that are different from what happens in nature, as opposed to lab-created versions of natural genes (Myriad had previously cloned BRCA 1 and BRCA 2). For a little more clarity on what does not fall under the scope of this ruling, here's a quote from Justice Clarence Thomas' description of the court's decision. It's the cDNA Thomas describes here that would still be patentable.
DNA’s informational sequences and the processes that create mRNA, amino acids, and proteins occur naturally within cells. Scientists can, however, extract DNA from cells using well known laboratory methods. These methods allow scientists to isolate specific segments of DNA—for instance, a particular gene or part of a gene—which can then be further studied, manipulated, or used. It is also possible to create DNA synthetically through processes similarly well known in the field of genetics. One such method begins with an mRNA molecule and uses the natural bonding properties of nucleotides to create a new, synthetic DNA molecule. The result is the inverse of the mRNA’s inverse image of the original DNA, with one important distinction: Because the natural creation of mRNA involves splicing that removes introns, the synthetic DNA created from mRNA also contains only the exon sequences. This synthetic DNA created in the laboratory from mRNA is known as complementary DNA (cDNA).
Read More:
The Washington Post on the Court decision
• The full Supreme Court decision itself
• Rebecca Skloot, who literally wrote the book on the ethics of genes and genes patents, is answering questions at Facebook.

Hospitals ignore regulations meant to keep medical costs lower

A new study finds that out-of-network medical bills aren't just high, they're often illegally high — with hospitals ignoring regulations meant to keep you out of debt when you get sick out of state.

First double leg-transplant patient has legs amputated

The world's first double leg-transplant patient has had his legs amputated, a Spanish hospital has confirmed. The amputation was carried out after an unrelated illness forced the man to stop taking anti-rejection drugs, according to Valencia's Hospital La Fe. The hospital said treatment of the unspecified illness was "more urgent".
The transplant was carried out in July 2011 by surgeon Pedro Cavadas, who also led a team that carried out the first double hand transplant in 2006. The man who received the double leg transplant, who was in his 20s at the time and has not been named, initially lost his legs above the knee in a road accident.

Mr Cavadas and his team of more than 50 at Hospital La Fe took more than 10 hours to attach the new legs, a procedure that included connecting nerves, blood vessels, muscles, tendons and bone structure. The patient was expected to take immuno-suppressant drugs for the rest of his life, but had to stop because the medicine was complicating the treatment of an illness he contracted, doctors said.

"In these cases the protocol is that, if the transplanted organ is not a vital organ, it should be removed from the patient so as to allow treatment of the illness that is more serious and urgent," the hospital said in a statement. Mr Cavadas is referred to as a "miracle doctor" by parts of the Spanish media for his pioneering procedures.

Random Photo


 monica bellucci

Human News

How various tongues are spoken may depend on the lay of the landscape.
Babies as young as 10 months old reach out to bully victims.
Look for these 10 clues when deciding if your government is repressive.

The Genetics of Barrel-Spoiling Bad Apples

The genetics behind "one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch" have been discovered.

Over 113 Years, This Home Library Has Grown to 35,000 Books

Tom Johnson, 83, of Osceola, Missouri lives in a library. His grandfather built the house in 1899 and moved his 8,000 volume personal collection into it. Over time, the family added more books and more rooms to house the books. Now Mr. Johnson has a home library that is the envy of bibliophiles everywhere:
Three generations of Johnsons never set out to collect “rare books.” Instead, they collected books that fell within their diverse areas of interest — from Plato, to law, to economics, to India, to archeology, to Sanskrit.
Not everything in the collection is a 300-year-old scholarly tome. The museum has mystery novels, Jackie Collins’ steamy tales of lust, small books designed to fit into the pockets of GIs during World War II and tawdry novellas Richards calls “bodice rippers.”
Many of the older books are in Latin or Greek — or both, on facing pages — and date from the 16th and 17th centuries. The best digital searches, Richards said, show that some of the books are only cataloged at one or two libraries in the world.
The oldest book in Mr. Johnson's collection dates back to 1489. His entire collection is protected from network outages:
But wherever you look, you won’t find a computer. In this digital age, with the future of printed books uncertain, Johnson lives surrounded by the printed word.
“For me personally, I prefer books to digital resources,” he said.

Silicon Valley remains a tough place for women and brown people

Mother Jones features three slides from Catherine Bracy's recent talk at the Personal Democracy Forum tech conference. Bracy ran Team Obama's technology field office in the 2012 campaign. Her talk featured some staggering data points on the race and gender divide in Silicon Valley. No, it's not a perfectly egalitarian color/gender-blind meritocracy yet. Not by a long shot. 

A 19th Century Japanese Village

Old photos of a Japanese village in the 19th century.

T. rex coprolite

Fossilized T. rex poop
T. rex itself couldn't make it, but he sends his regards. And poop.
The Royal Saskatchewan Museum is sending a replica of its prized fossilized dinosaur poop (or "coprolite," in polite company) to the Smithsonian Institution:
According to the RSM, the T. rex coprolite was "deposited" over 65 million years ago in what is now southwest Saskatchewan. The original fossil will remain in Eastend.
Scientists say much can be learned about dinosaurs by examining their droppings. This particular coprolite contains bone fragments, confirming that the T. rex was indeed a meat eater.
Furthermore, the bone chips are shattered and still angular, not worn down by stomach acid, suggesting that the meat didn't spend much time in the dinosaur's stomach.
You sure can tell a lot by looking at someone's poop! More

Animal News

The new Vicroy Ministreak butterfly was discovered in Texas and is named for the wife of its discoverer
The massive, winged reptiles, pterosaurs, swarmed over Cretaceous England some 110 million years ago, fossils suggest. 

Animal Pictures